My advice? Learn German!
Keane and I have also met through a mutual friend when he worked in Heilbronn for a local company. He arrived in 2017 from the United Kingdom, after finishing his Master in Engineering and decided to work for a german company. Keane is an indian citizen but spent most of his life growing up in Dubai and later studying in England before coming to Germany with a Blue Card Visa. “The HR lady did a lot of stuff for me”, he says.”I don’t really know what they did, but they worked with the “Agentur für Arbeit”, they took a lot of work off my shoulders.”
For Keane the difficulty was not really the bureaucracy, but more the daily tasks. Finding an apartment that he liked. He arrived in October in Heilbronn, perfect timing. Due to the increasing campus in Heilbronn more and more students are coming into town and everyone was looking for an apartment. “I stayed with a coworker for a while and also in a hotel. During that time I searched on websites like www.wg-gesucht.de, or www.immobilienscout24.de and I found a shared flat. There Keane stayed until he moved back to the United Kingdom to pursue his second Master.
Getting around in Germany is different than usually.
Keane has a United Arab Emirates driver’s licence, which was not valid in Germany. So he had to translate it and also had to pass both exams again. The theoretical and the practical. “The whole process took me around five months. It needed to be translated first into german and then I was able to pass my exams. So I was not able to drive.”
But his UAE driver’s licence was not the only thing that is unusual for the german authorities. In Germany when you buy a Simcard for your phone, everyone has to identify themselves, either in a post office or digital, but because of his Indian passport, this was not possible for him. “I tried to use the identification service of Deutsche Post, but my passport is not machine readable,” he said.”They just don’t accept certain ones, but I found a workaround,”he laughed. Keane just asked one of his coworkers to help him and buy the Simcard for him. “I mean in the end it would have worked, I assume, but having people to help you works a lot better. They helped me a lot. Like my HR lady, or my friend at the Rathaus. She literally did all the talking, I did not say a word. I am really grateful for that.”
Besides having german friends Keane has another recommendation for everyone who comes to Germany or lives there. “Learn german is my greatest advice. Everything is well documented and straight forward, but it is just not enough to say “Hello my name is XY and I am from XY”. You need to have solid language knowledge. At least B2. The less german you know, the more problems you will have.”